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Child abuse: A snapshot in time

July 8, 2015

The sheer number of reports of child abuse prove it isn’t an occasional crime. It’s an epidemic, borne out by headlines and, too often, obituaries of children robbed of the chance to grow up.

For example, from recent news reports:

In South Carolina, a couple is facing neglect charges for allegedly forcing their teen-aged daughter to live in the woods because she ate a Pop-Tart without permission. The parents reportedly told the girl not to come home for a week; someone from her household was to deliver her food at specific times. According to authorities, the girl was told to pitch a tent in the woods and provided with only a roll of toilet paper, a whistle, a flashlight, and a watch. A grandmother notified authorities, who found the girl alone in the woods.

A nine-year-old Maryland boy died of injuries after he was allegedly handcuffed and beaten by his mother’s boyfriend for eating a piece of birthday cake without permission. The boy was handcuffed, his mother said, because he had a history of stealing, but after he ate the piece of cake, the boyfriend got angry and attacked the child. The boy’s mother allegedly initially denied her son medical attention, telling police responding to a 911 call that he was simply “congested.” First-responders called back to the scene found the boy not breathing and seeing his injuries, transported him to a hospital where he later died. The boyfriend is facing charges of first- and second-degree assault, child abuse and reckless endangerment.

Columbus, Ohio, authorities have charged a woman with felony child abuse after she used a stun gun to jolt her 13-year-old daughter over the Fourth of July weekend. Officers responding to a 911 call said the woman shocked her daughter in the right torso after approaching her from behind in a darkened room. The victim said her mother tried to “zap” her with the electroshock weapon multiple times, but she was able to run out of the room and get away, officers said.

A six-year-old autistic boy from Maryland is on life support after being beaten by his mother’s boyfriend, who faces charges of first- and second-degree assault and first- and second-degree child abuse. Police said the defendant acknowledged using excessive discipline, including hitting and kicking, because he gets frustrated when the boy won’t listen, and that he had grabbed the boy forcefully “to scare him into being good.”

These and numerous other events occurred within a two-day, 48-hour period. Nationwide, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds, and daily, between four and seven children die due to child abuse and neglect – completely preventable issues.

Kids cannot protect themselves alone. We as adults need to stand up for children and insist that abuse stop and something gets done about it.

As Elie Wiesel once wrote: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

See or suspect abuse? Report it.